Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda together with the Director of the Prague City Gallery, Milan Bufka, has opened the exhibition of 20 canvases of the Slav Epic in the Great Hall of the Prague Exhibition Palace after they had been transferred from the town of Krumlov.
“I am pleased that the Slav Epic returns to Prague and that this hall meets the appropriate parameters for displaying such work,” said Mayor Svoboda (ODS), who thanked the town of Moravský Krumlov for their many years of dedicated care to the Slav Epic as well as to all those who contributed to the creation of the exhibition. The Mayor also emphasized that the current exhibition area reflects the artist’s vision in the best possible way.
Alfons Mucha (1860 – 1939), the world’s most famous Czech contemporary artist achieved fame on an international scale in Paris at the turn of the 19th and 20th century thanks to his original Art Nouveau works of art. However, he saw the meaning of his life in another work of art, which he considered much more momentous – a cycle of twenty monumental paintings, the Slav Epic, on which he worked from 1912 to 1926.
Theme of the Slav Epic
The present installation is based on Mucha’s original content layout for the Slav Epic, from the time sequence of individual topics. It reveals the inner relationships between the paintings, highlights the rhythm of the cycle and emphasizes the main intention of this extensive work of art to which Mucha gave the best years of his life. Mucha made the decision to donate the Slav Epic to the City of Prague before he even began painting and so he gradually handed over the finished paintings to the City of Prague.
The theme of the Slav Epic stretches from the compelling projections of ancient Slavic history and the worship of pagan pantheons, through historically documented events, which are primarily important from the intellectual and cultural aspect, up to the final vision of spiritual significance of Slavs for all mankind. Mucha addresses Czech history in ten of the paintings: The “Czech Epic” represents the ideological axis of the whole cycle. Mucha emphasizes the Hussite movement and the Unity of Brotherhood, thus a period that he considered with the approval of František Palacký, Ernest Denis, Jaroslav Bidlo and Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, as the most important. The remaining ten canvases are dedicated to other Slavs and Slavic scenes.
The City Gallery of Prague published a comprehensive monograph to accompany the Slav Epic exhibition, written by Lenka Bydžovská and Karel Srp in collaboration with Miroslav Petříček, Markéta Theinhardtová, Dominique Lobstein and Tomáš Berger. The publication is packed with photographs and contains current views of the Slav Epic, analysis and interpretations of all paintings, a detailed chronology, a selection of historical reviews and reflections as well as an anthology of Mucha's texts.Edited by Jan Šerých.
The opening had to be postponed to a later date than originally planned, as the Great Hall of the Exhibition Palace needed to undergo a technical overhaul to achieve the optimal environment for the exhibition of the paintings.
The exhibition is open to the public from Tuesday to Sunday from 10.00 to 18.00.